BLS drafts new definition of “librarians.”

BLS drafts new definition of “librarians.” – Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last year, SLA worked hard to negotiate with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to make changes in the proposed Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) definition of “librarians.” Many members and staff worked together to communicate the need for a more modern definition in today’s economy. After nearly one year of review by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the new definition has been released.

OMB is now seeking public comment on the Standard Occupational Classification Revision Policy Committee’s final recommendations for revising the 1980 SOC occupational units and aggregate groups presented in the Federal Register on August 5, 1998. The new occupational classification system will cover all jobs in the national economy, including occupations in the public, private, and military sectors.

All federal agencies that collect occupational data will use the new system. Similarly, all state and local government agencies will be encouraged strongly to use this national system to promote a common language for categorizing occupations in the world of work. The new SOC system will be used by the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics program for gathering occupational information. It will also replace the Bureau of the Census’ 1990 occupational classification system and will be used for the 2000 Census. In addition, the new SOC will serve as the framework for information being gathered through the Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network, which is in the process of replacing the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

The following is the definition proposed by SLA last year:

“Provides timely, working information to a specialized clientele to further the objectives of libraries, educational institutions, museums, non-profit organizations, government agencies, corporations, news organizations, law firms, and health care providers. Possesses expert knowledge of information resources, and anticipates the needs of the organization or client. Critically evaluates and filters information to design tailored information products that can meet the strategic goals of the organization or client. Functions also include acquisition, cataloguing, circulation, collections maintenance, and reference services; compiling, analyzing, writing, editing, computer programming, and systems design.”

The new definition for librarians, as drafted by BLS:

“Administer libraries and perform related library services. Work in a variety of settings, including public libraries, schools, colleges and universities, museums, corporations, government agencies, law firms, nonprofit organizations, and health care providers. Tasks may include selecting, acquiring, cataloguing, classifying, circulating, and maintaining library materials; and furnishing reference, bibliographical, and readers’ advisory services. May perform in-depth, strategic research, and synthesize, analyze, edit, and filter information. May set up or work with databases and information systems to catalogue and access information.”

To ensure consideration, all comments must be in writing and received on or before October 9, 1998.

Correspondence about the adoption and implementation of the SOC as shown in this Federal Register notice should be sent to:

Katherine K. Wallman Chief Statistician Office of Management and Budget 10201 New Executive office Building Washington, DC 20503 Phone: 1-202-395-3093 FAX: 1-202-395-7245.

Inquiries about the definition of particular occupations or requests for electronic copies of the SOC structure should be made to:

Laurie Salmon Standard Occupational Classification Revision Policy Committee Bureau of Labor Statistics, Room 4840 Washington, DC 20212 Phone number: 1-202-606-6511 FAX: 1-202-606-6645.

The Federal Register notice is available on the Internet from the BLS via the Internet. To obtain this document, go to This web page contains previous notices and related documents. To obtain this document via e-mail, send a message to

Comments may be sent via e-mail to OMB at Do not include any capital letters in the address. Comments received at this address by the date specified above will be included as part of the official record.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact SLA headquarters. Look for SLA’s comments to be published soon on the association’s web site.

For more information on Government Relations Outlook or to contribute to the column, please contact Director, Government Relations John Crosby (

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